Marius Vizer: We are Proud to Hold World-2014 in Chelyabinsk

- Mr. Vizer why the IJF rely on Russia in holding the World-2014? What are your decisive criteria?

- For the IJF, it is a great honor to organize World Championships in Russia after 31 years.

First of all, our motivation consists of the outstanding results of Russia at international level, their permanent major contribution to the development of judo in the world and Europe, as well as a series of other events organized in Russia, like the Grand Slam, the Masters, the World Championships Open, through which they confirmed the best and most professional organization conditions, as well as the fact that at a global level, Russia is the country that invests the most in sport and meanwhile, it contributes to the development of world sports.

- Chelyabinsk hosted the European Judo Championships in 2012. According to foreign experts, the level of the tournament organization was the highest.  However, two big international events during just two years – is a great burden for any city. Are you sure that Chelyabinsk will pull it off?

- I am absolutely convinced. Even if you mention the word “burden” I consider that actually we are talking about an added value for the education strategy of the new generation of the city and the region, we are talking here about one event that will be broadcasted by approximately 150 countries, which honors our sport, as well as Chelyabinsk and Russia in general. This event is also an important vector of promoting the spiritual, cultural and human values of Russia and the region of Chelyabinsk.

- What do you think of the Euro-2012 in Chelyabinsk? Did anything surprise you?

- I was impressed not only by the professional level of the organization, but also by the human attitude of the local partners, by the respect they showed towards the sport and our community. As far as friendship and hospitality are concerned, there is simply nothing to be added.

- The next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will take place only in two years. Do you think that all the World strongest judokas will come to the championships in Russia?

- I don’t think, I am convinced because the Judo World Championships are not just a mechanism of qualification, it is also the competition of the highest prestige of our sport and I believe that any athlete wishes to be a World Champion, at least one time during his or her career.

- The World Championships were always held in capitals like Cairo, Tokyo, Paris, Rio de Janeiro.  Chelyabinsk with one million people population can hardly compete with such megacities. 

- Throughout the history of the Judo World Championships, these events were not organized only in capitals. Moreover, in the present, together with the economical and financial restructuring and reform of the nations, major events are organized in locations that have the optimal conditions to support and organize them, disposing of the necessary infrastructure and logistics. The results of the country in that given sport are also very important. Even the Olympic Games, which are the superlative of sports events worldwide, are not organized only in capitals.

- Since January 1, 2013 the new judo rules have taken effect. What was the reason for changes? Do you agree with the statement that the sport is more attractive now?

- I would say that actually they were corrections and adjustments at a technical level and not radical changes, that give our sport a higher ethical posture and on the sports level, more understanding of the sport by the spectators. These rules are making refereeing evaluation criteria simpler and the new strategy is more attractive for spectators, media, sponsors, athletes and referees altogether.

- At the World-2013 in Rio de Janeiro you said that judo is entering new period of development. What changes do you see?  Is the sport getting more popular?

- In the Olympic hierarchy, Judo has climbed one category, which means more value, exposure and Olympic dividends for our sport. This confirms the statements and the conviction that the entire strategy in the past period was correct. I also consider that we still have a lot to work and perfect in order to bring our sport to high levels in the sports hierarchy. But, the strategy is a good and correct one.

- You are the head of the biggest international organization - the SportAccord. It holds the united championships in Olympic and non-Olympic sports. Would you tell us about the plans of the SportAccord? Is it difficult to run two serious organizations at the same time?

- SportAccord is a very important world sports organization, whose members are the International Federations governing Olympic and non-Olympic sports, whose members are the Continental Unions, the National Federations and the athletes, shortly it is the world sports movement – for masses and for elites as well. I have faith in the potential of this organization and I am sure that together with my SportAccord and Judo team, I will be able to reach the performance that sport needs.

- What was the IOC members’ reaction on your wish to hold the united World championships? Many people find you idea revolutionary, but interesting.

- The initial idea was to have United World Championships, but after long debates with partners and organizations at all levels, and also given the calendar of the IFs containing major events, I think the project must be reconsidered in a different format, like the Champions Games. This would be one event of high quality, which would not represent a competition for the Olympic Games through its global nature, but meanwhile it would imply the elite of world sports. You will find out more details about this project in the future.

- The experts from the SportsPro included you in the TOP-10 of the most influential sports leaders in the World. Do you admire anyone of your colleagues?

- I admire, appreciate and respect all of them and I feel the same about all the people who are sincerely and passionately dedicated to sports and who contribute to the development of sports in their communities.

I take this opportunity to thank the local government of Chelyabinsk, the Russian Judo Federation and all the athletes and judo fans from Russia, for their continuous support. I would like to thank Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federations who is the Honorary President of the International Judo Federation, for his continuous support of Judo and of world sports.